Two Christian fellows walk into a bar. Not only is it an excellent place to watch the game, but it’s also a prime location to meet those who need Christ the most. Following in Christ’s steps (spending time with tax collectors and sinners), these two men take a seat at the bar. The bartender asks, “What’ll you have?” Having been in this situation before, the two order beers for two reasons: firstly, they genuinely enjoy beer, even going as far as to call it “Nectar from above” (remember, they’re from Oklahoma). Secondly, having a drink can foster witnessing opportunities. It not only helps them relax but also puts others at ease. On their first visit, they ordered just water, which, alongside their Bibles and tracts, made them stick out. They found that having a beer acted as a kind of social lubricant. But, of course, they genuinely like beer.
However, they sometimes face the tricky question of when to stop, especially when the bartender asks, “Do you want another?” The debate about how much is too much is ongoing among Christians:
- Drunk Christians (occationlly inebriated): Some Christians occasionally drink and do not avoid the effects of alcohol or getting drunk. They point out that the Bible, for the most part, has a positive view of alcohol and it’s effects in general. While acknowledging that some people should not drink due to the inability of their personality to handle themselves, they believe they have control. For them, when the Bible speaks negatively about alcohol in certain passages (Eph 5:18 for example), it is only speaking about those who do it continually and cannot stop. They suggest that the present progressive tense is used in these warnings, meaning do not always be getting drunk. Therefore, the Bible only warns against being a drunkard, not simply getting drunk.
- Gospel-driven drinking Christians (occasionally tipsy): Some Christians see drinking as an avenue for evangelism. They might frequent places where alcohol is served to engage with non-believers, even hosting events where they provide drinks. While they’re cautious about their consumption, they don’t always avoid the effects of alcohol.
- Moderate Drinking Christians (always sober): Many Christians opt for balanced consumption, enjoying an occasional glass of wine or beer but never overindulging. They prioritize moderation and self-control, referencing scriptures that depict non-excessive drinking positively. For them, it’s about finding a middle ground, enjoying alcohol responsibly without compromising their faith.
- Soft teetotalism (personal abstinence): Many Christians choose not to drink for a variety of reasons, such as personal or familial experiences with addiction or simply disliking alcohol’s taste or effect. However, they don’t judge others who choose to drink.
- Hard teetotalism (universal abstinence): Some Christians believe that all followers of Christ should abstain from alcohol. They point to verses like Proverbs 20:1 to emphasize the dangers of alcohol and argue that modern alcoholic beverages are far stronger than those in biblical times.
Where do you stand on this spectrum?